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Pistons Links: Rookie rankings, Detroit's long-term X-Factor, an NBA TV game and Brandon Jennings doing full-court

Brandon Jennings is making progress -- can't wait to have him back and ready to go. To the links!

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Stanley Johnson will figure to play some more minutes during this weekend's back-to-back games, beginning Friday night against the Timberwolves. Will he be able to produce more efficiently on the offensive end?

At least his defense is showing positive growth.

Memories driving Johnson to greater heights in Detroit --

The returns were the backdrop to his new world, the one where he is in the rotation for a winning team, an accomplishment, but struggling to find his way. His role in Detroit has been decreasing (16 minutes each of the last two games) and his shot hasn't been falling (36.8 percent so far). There have been good moments on defense, his area of greatest potential impact, but also times when he has been lost on plays as part of the typical rookie learning curve.

"The effort's an A. A-plus," Johnson said of his defense. "I would say the technique is probably like a C-plus/B-minus. I think the technique goes up because my effort's so high. I think it's good. Better than average, for sure. But I know I can do better than what I'm doing."

Let's also take a look at some of the Top 10 in the 'Rookie Ladder'. First up, two bigs Detroit will see tomorrow in Minnesota:

1. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves (Last week: 1)

Towns is the second player since 1997-98, along with Blake Griffin, to average 15 points and 10 rebounds in his first 10 games. Only eight have hit that mark in the last 30 years: Tim Duncan, Chris Webber, Shaquille O'Neal, Dikembe Mutombo, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Griffin and now, Towns. Decent company. He also had the run of six consecutive games with at least three blocks. Towns turned 20 on Sunday.

4. Nemanja Bjelica, Minnesota Timberwolves (Last week: 4)

He's 6-foot-10... and shooting 36.6 percent behind the arc, fourth among rookies, while averaging 3.7 threes per game. In the five games before the Timberwolves played at Miami on Tuesday night, the 2010 second-rounder was at 53.3 percent overall and 47.4 on 3-pointers while making few ball-handling mistakes. Between Towns' perimeter game and Bjeclica's range, Minnesota's new bigs can stretch the floor in impressive ways, creating more driving opportunities for the backcourt of Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine.

Not too shabby for Mr. Winslow:

6. Justise Winslow, Miami Heat (Last Week: 8)

Winslow was averaging a rookie-leading 9.2 minutes in the fourth quarter for a team well above .500. Try finding many better credibility boosts for a rookie, and a rookie coming off a college one-and-done at that. Winslow is 19 years old and still in a reserve role, but playing a lot of crunch time. He's at 28.7 minutes overall.

Who Is The Long-Term X-Factor? -- Hoops Habit

Provided the X-factor should be a player from the bench (considering up to this point KCP, Ilyasova and Morris are in total like one big X-factor), all signs point to it needing to be Stanley Johnson, and that's OK.  He needs to get into a groove and put together a couple double-digit scoring games in a row.  It'll do wonders for his entire game.

The only other option I see now is Spencer Dinwiddie, because it's surely going to take a few straight weeks of solid shooting to regain my confidence in Mr. Anthony Tolliver.

Detroit's bench is having major issues of providing little, if any production this season.  Pistons' starters have accounted for 79.9 percent of the team's scoring through 11 games this season.  The bench has been able to provide little support and hasn't given the starting rotation a good breather this season.

It was evident in a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night that the bench is bad and is a major weakness.  The bench accounted for nine of Detroit's 104 points on Tuesday, which is less than nine percent.  Bench players combined to shoot 4-for-18, or 22.2 percent, in Tuesday night's win over the Cavs.

If you portray Stan Van Gundy as unyielding, you're missing the man -- MLive

So far, so good. Seems everyone is on board and I doubt it will change anytime soon.

I have heard Van Gundy described as stubborn, and after 18 months covering him, that is not a word I would use, at least not to any degree that distinguishes him from any of the other Type A personalities who do his job. He believes in certain principles of life and basketball but that doesn't make him stubborn. It means he has specific ideas about certain things he can control and templates for most external situations which he can't fully control. That's the benefit of a veteran coach.

Pistons score first NBA TV appearance of the season -- Keith Langlois

Brandon Jennings progresses to full-court work -- CBS Sports

Jennings (Achilles) participated in full-court drills at Wednesday's practice, Keith Langlois of reports.

Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores relists Bel-Air lot for $52 million -- LA Times

Any takers?

Set above the Bel-Air Country Club, two private driveways lead up to the graded 3.2 acre site, which includes a flat lot of approximately 2.8 acres. Retaining walls, an underground structure and a 15-car garage are currently within the grounds, listing details note.


How Ersan Ilyasova killed the Cavs -- spacing, spacing, spacing -- DBB

For the Pistons to be successful, Ilyasova has to continue to play the way he has the first 11 games. The quiet charge has given this team a much-needed dimension to the offense, one that changes the way teams play Jackson and Drummond, and could quietly charge the Pistons season.

Happy reading and skimming dear readers!